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European Cabinet System


European Cabinet System - part one

Part One

 True European cabinets are generally referred to as the 32mm system, as many aspects of it are based on that measurement, as a standard.

European cabinets are typically made from Melamine. As the adhesive used in forming Melamine, is Formaldehyde base, all edges must be sealed. This could be a simple spraying of a sealer coat of lacquer or similar product, where the edges are hidden.


This material can be difficult to work with for most home, or even small cabinet shops. The product is made up of particle board, with a liquid coating, which is hardened. It is quite heavy. The sheets are available in several thickness, and configurations. There are several standard colors to choose from, and it is available with the coating on one side only, and a gluable surface on the other. This is to allow for laminating the show side with plastic laminate or veneer.

As we purchase the product from a wholesale supplier, the brittle coating often extends beyond the edges of the particle board, and is very sharp. Handling this without gloves, is a recipe for disaster. (unless you like getting cut). I have no idea why it's shipped like that. The first step in dealing with these sheets, is to remove these protrusions. A laminate trimmer will remove them quite effectively, or you could use a rasp, or hand plane. I wouldn't recommend using a good plane for this though. These sheets measure 49" x 97" to allow for trimming. Many other sizes are available.

One of the disadvantages in using this product is it tends to chip, while being cut. A European table saw is equipped with a scoring blade, which is located just in front of the main blade. It is smaller in diameter, and spins in the opposite direction of the main blade. These saws typically have a sliding table on them to facilitate moving the heavy sheets through the saw very accurately, with no chips. The bad new is these saws are roughly ten thousand and up.

Over the years, American cabinet makers have come up with many ways to get around this problem, without investing in one of the expensive saws. Probably the most common method has been to cut all the pieces 1/8" oversized, and then either rout or joint the edges on the jointer. We have on occasion set up the shaper to take 1/ 16" off all edges. This does add considerable work to the process.

Another method was to cut part way through the sheet, in essence, scoring the bottom surface, and then raising the blade and running the pieces through to complete the cut. I have never opted for this method, as I don't have that kind of patience.

Fortunately, Forrest Blades has come to the rescue, once again. Their Duraline Hi AT blade will cut these sheets, virtually chip free, on both sides. This is the same blade we use to cut furniture grade plywood, and again there are no chips on either side of the plywood.

Written by: Lee A. Jesberger © 2006 - 2010
Inventor of: Ezee-Feed Systems ®


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